When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
Before Roger and I got married, we had long conversations about what we wanted our marriage to look like. We both had plenty of examples in our lives of other couples’ marriages—some of them we wanted to emulate; some we wanted to avoid.
With both of us heading into our second marriage, it was exciting to dream about what this marriage was going to look like. “This time,” we told ourselves, “it’s going to be different.”
And while a lot of things were different, some things were remarkably familiar. Even though I was married to a different man, many of my same insecurities and fears were very present holdovers from my first marriage. Financial strains and our teenagers’ angst hadn’t magically disappeared in this new marriage (but instead of each of us having two teenagers, now we each had two teenagers and two stepkids).
I had been told over and over that this second marriage was going to be hard. But I guess I secretly hoped we would be the couple that escaped all the drama.
Shocking, I know, but we were not that lucky couple.
God’s Word tells us not only to expect the good, the bad, and the ugly but also that it comes from or is allowed by Him. We don’t always understand the trials, but we can trust the One who sent them.
About six months into our marriage, I remember Roger and I looking at each other and saying out loud, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” This wasn’t the marriage we had dreamed about. Life was just as stressful as when I was single, but now I had to take into consideration another person’s moods and opinions.
And yes, I’m sure Roger would admit to reflecting with some longing on his bachelor days.
After long, heated discussions and a river of tears on my part, we knew we needed to make some changes, fast, if we didn’t want this marriage to go the same way as our firsts.
It was about that time that Roger came up with the watchword for our marriage: intentional.
We determined that if we wanted to make this marriage work, we had to be intentional in everything we did. We would be intentional about inviting God into our marriage each day. We would be intentional about our time spent together and the conversations we shared. We would be intentional about supporting each other and looking for the good in each other, instead of constantly recognizing what was driving us nuts.
No, it doesn’t always work out perfectly. And yes, we fight and we bicker and we say stupid things. But we have a standard for our marriage, one we can hold each other to in the most stressful times.
That standard is to intentionally discover the best in our partner, every day.
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